Senior Hamas figures publicly call for the opening of new fronts in the next campaign against Israel, with an emphasis on carrying out attacks from Lebanese territory


Fathi Hamad, former interior minister in the Hamas government, called in his speech for the opening of new fronts against Israel from the surrounding Arab countries and also from countries far from its borders (Facebook page of the Interior Ministry in Gaza, February 26, 2015)
Fathi Hamad, former interior minister in the Hamas government, called in his speech for the opening of new fronts against Israel from the surrounding Arab countries and also from countries far from its borders (Facebook page of the Interior Ministry in Gaza, February 26, 2015)

Overview

1.  Senior Hamas officials recently emphasized the need to open new fronts against Israel in the next round of fighting, from all the Arab countries bordering on it, including from those that are far from its borders. Special emphasis was placed on Syria and Lebanon: senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar called on the authorities in Syria and Lebanon to allow Hamas to set up military units in the refugee camps, sothat they “will manage the resistance [including] from northern Palestine and will participate with us in the liberation [of Palestine]”. Hamas spokesmen have stated that during Operation Protective Edge, operatives of the organization’s military wing already launched rockets into northern Israel from Lebanese territory, and implicitly called for the expansion of this phenomenon in the next confrontation.[1]

2.  The Hamas officials’ statements on the need to open new fronts in the next campaign against Israel can be seen against the backdrop of Hamas’s intensive activity to rehabilitate its military capabilities, which were damaged during Operation Protective Edge.In the ITIC’s assessment, this activity includes thinking about operating methods that will harm Israel’s weak spots, based on lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge (for example: attacking Israeli outposts near the Gaza Strip; abducting Israeli soldiers).

3.  At this stage, it is unclear whether these statements have had any practical effect to date, particularly with respect to the Lebanese arena. In this context, Emad Zaqout, news division chief at Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV, wrote that in January 2015, Mohammed Deif, head of Hamas’ military wing, sent a letter to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, offering to coordinate the “fire of resistance against Israel” (i.e., firing rockets) from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

4.  See appendix for statements by senior Hamas figures on the need to open new fronts against Israel in the next campaign.

Appendix
A selection of statements by senior Hamas figures about opening new fronts
Fathi Hamad

1.  Fathi Hamad, former interior minister in the Hamas government, spoke at the opening ceremony of an international economic conference at the Al-Ribat Academic College in Gaza. He said, among other things, that the liberation of Palestine requires a long-term plan, in which the Arab and Muslim nations will take part on the basis of “overall resistance and jihad of all types”. He noted that leadership is required for the resistance (i.e., for the terrorist organizations), which will supervise all of its military, political, economic and scientific aspects. In his speech, Fathi Hamad called for opening new fronts against Israel (“the occupation”) from all the surrounding countries, including those that are farther from its borders (Safa News Agency, February 24, 2015).

2.  In an interview conducted with him a few days later, Fathi Hamad said, in reference to Egypt, that regarding the Palestinian issue, what is required from the Arab nation and from Egypt in particular is assistance with weapons, opening the borders and lifting the “siege”. He said the Egyptian army should conduct training exercises and maneuvers to “help the resistance” and should participate with it in the fighting (Al-Quds TV, February 28, 2015).

Mahmoud al-Zahar

3.  On February 4, 2015, during a political convention held by the Hamas information office in the northern Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar called on theSyrian and Lebanese authorities to permit the organization to set up military squads in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, which will be subject to Hamas’s military wing.He said thatthese units would manage the “resistance from northern Palestine [as well] and will participate with us in its liberation” (Al-Hayat, February 18, 2015). The Hamas speakers at the conference announced that operatives of its military wing launched rockets into Israel from Lebanese territory during Operation Protective Edge.[2]

Emad Zaqout

4.  In the wake of the statements made by Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Dunya al-Watan website (February 6, 2015) published an article entitled: “What is the secret of Dr. Al-Zahar’s statement?” The article was written by Emad Zaqout, news division chief at Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV. Zaqout notes in his article that immediately after Operation Protective Edge, and even during the operation, the Hamas leadership began to prepare for a scenario in which all future war will include all the territory of Israel (and not just its south). He said that during Operation Protective Edge, the military wing of Hamas had a number of organizations and cells in Arab countries bordering on Israel launch rockets into cities in northern Israel, thereby “confusing the assessments of the Israeli leaders”

5.  Emad Zaqout noted that this can be seen as the renewal of the contacts between Hamas and Hezbollah. The renewal of the ties is what motivated Mahmoud al-Zahar to make the statements that he made at the conference. He added that Mahmoud al-Zahar’s remarks were made in coordination with senior Hezbollah officials. In his article, Zaqout mentioned a letter which Hamas claims was sent by Mohammed Deif, head of Hamas’ military wing, in January 2015.In his letter to Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, he offered to coordinate the “fire of resistance” against Israel from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Emad Zaqout: Hamas maintains contacts with Hezbollah in order to coordinate the ‘‘fire of resistance against Israel” from Lebanese territory (Dunya al-Watan, February 6, 2015)
Emad Zaqout: Hamas maintains contacts with Hezbollah in order to coordinate the ‘‘fire of resistance against Israel” from Lebanese territory (Dunya al-Watan, February 6, 2015)

[1]During Operation Protective Edge, there were indeed a number of rocket launches from Lebanese territory by Palestinians. The rockets fell in the area of Metula and the Western Galilee and did not cause any damage.
[2]During Operation Protective Edge, there were several attempts to launch rockets from Lebanese territory. For example, a rocket was fired from Lebanon on July 11, 2014. The rocket exploded in nearby Metula. There were no casualties. The Lebanese Army command issued a statement to the effect that “an unknown party” had fired three rockets from the Marjeyoun-Hasbaya area. Lebanese Army forces carried out searches in the area and found the position from which the rockets were launched. In the position, they found documents and maps specifying coordinates and targets (Al-Akhbar, Al-Nashra, July 11, 2014). On the night of July 13-14, 2014, a number of rocket hits were identified in the Western Galilee. There were no casualties and no damage was caused (IDF Spokesperson, July 14, 2014). The Lebanese Army command published the names of two Palestinians who it claimed were involved in firing the rockets (Lebanese News Agency, July 16, 2014).